Author Archives: Elysse F.

June 18, 2014

The Doll Graveyard

Posted by at 12:23 pm in Reads | Permalink

TThe Doll Graveyard book coverhe Doll Graveyard (for ages 8-12) by Lois Ruby

“Chester sniffs at the ground and whimpers. It’s a graveyard, a miniature cemetery with five tiny wooden markers close together in a horseshoe shape, and one larger one set apart, as if someone didn’t want that body buried with the rest.”

When Shelby’s parents divorce, she isn’t happy that it means she has to move 200 miles away from where she grew up. Her great-aunt Amelia has died, leaving a house at Cinder Creek to Shelby, her brother Brian, her mom, and her dog Chester. It’s a beautiful house, but old and kind of creepy at night. And oh yeah, there is also a weird miniature graveyard in the backyard.

Brian and Shelby dig up the miniature graves and find dolls. They take them inside and put them in a doll house that is an exact replica of their house. When the dolls start moving around the house and talking, Shelby and Brian try reburying them, but they won’t stay buried!

Shelby finds a journal written by the dolls’ first owner, Sadie. Shelby is horrified to hear that Sadie went through the same things Shelby is going through. The same things happened to Emily, the next girl to find the dolls. Emily ends up in a psychiatric ward because her parents and doctors think she is crazy.

Are Shelby and Brian going crazy? Or can they figure out a way to make the dolls quiet at last? Read and find out! Then comment in the section below!

June 4, 2014

The Great Greene Heist

Posted by at 1:55 am in Reads | Permalink

The Great Greene Heist book coverThe Great Greene Heist (for ages 10-14) by Varian Johnson

“I know exactly who you are,” the boy said as he clamped onto Jackson’s hand. “There are whole websites dedicated to the Infamous Jackson Greene.”

Hacking the computer system and scheduling a four-hour lunch period. Stealing the goat mascot and selling it on eBay. The “Mid-Day PDA “and the “Blitz at the Fitz.” Jackson Greene is known around the school for being able to get into and out of sticky situations, but he is also the kind of cool, funny kid that you would want to hang out with.

Jackson’s ex-best friend/ former almost-girlfriend, Gaby is running for class president. She wants new computers for classrooms and organic options in the cafeteria, among other things. But Jackson’s sworn enemy, Keith Sinclair is Gaby’s political opponent. Keith wants to cut funding for clubs so that he can get more money for the Gamer Club. Unfortunately for Maplewood Middle School, Keith might just get his way because of his insider connection to Principal Kelsey.

It’s time for Jackson to pull out his bag of tricks so he can outsmart Keith and Dr. Kelsey, secure Gaby’s presidency. . . and possibly change his personal status with Gaby.

Can he do it? OK. Disclaimer: There is no way any student in a real school could pull off half the things Jackson does in this book, so don’t even think about trying them yourself! But, if you like fast-paced books that are full of laughs, twists, and turns, books like Swindle and The Fourth Stall, then you will definitely want to read The Great Greene Heist to find out if he manages to succeed in his insane caper.


May 21, 2014

Zane and the Hurricane

Posted by at 1:49 am in Reads | Permalink

Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina (for ages 9-14) by Rodman Philbrick

Zane Dupree is against the trip to New Orleans (a.k.a Smellyville). Zane’s father died before he was born, so he doesn’t know much about his past. It isn’t until Zane is twelve that his mom finds Miss Trissy, the woman who raised his dad. Zane’s mom wants him to go back to his roots for a week. He only agrees to go if he can bring his best friend, his dog Bandit.

Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman PhilbrickSurprisingly, once he arrives in New Orleans, Zane takes an immediate liking to Miss Trissy. Despite being ancient and not having a working television or air conditioning, Miss Trissy does what she can to make Zane happy. She tells him stories of his dad growing up; they look through old pictures, and they eat ice cream on the porch. The week passes by quickly until word of a hurricane heading their way changes it all.

Once the storm hits, things happen quickly. The whole city becomes flooded and Zane finds himself separated from Miss Trissy and stranded in an attic with Bandit, to be rescued by Mr. Tru and Malvina in a green canoe. They scour the city, hoping to find a place to survive the flooded aftermath of a devastating storm.

Will Zane be able to survive the storm? Will he be reunited with his mom and Miss Trissy? Read and find out! Then leave a comment with your thoughts and feelings below!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

May 14, 2014

The Titanic Locket

Posted by at 1:33 am in Reads | Permalink

The Haunted Museum: The Titanic Locket (for ages 8-12) by Suzanne Weyn

It is spring break and Samantha and Jessica are not entirely looking forward to their family vacation. On a replica of the Titanic, the girls will follow the original Titanic’s journey from England, Ireland, and France to New York; that is, without the hitting-an-iceberg-and-sinking part. With no Internet or cell phone access, it will be like stepping into a time capsule.

Each guest is assigned a passenger from the original Titanic passenger list. Samantha and Jessica The Haunted Museum: The Titanic Locket book coverare given twins Alice and Matilda Littlefield. Although Jessica is actually 18 months older than Samantha, they look like twins, and strangely, they bear a close resemblance to the Littlefield twins.

Before boarding the ship, Sam and Jess go to a museum where they look at Titanic memorabilia. Despite the “DO NOT TOUCH” signs everywhere, Jess picks up a pretty locket. But soon after, strange things start happening to the girls.

The numbers on their room mysteriously change from 266 to 299. The locket begins showing up in their room, and even around their necks! Something sinister is at work. There are ghosts who are out to get Samantha and Jessica, and who will make this a vacation the girls will never forget – if they get out alive.

This is a good story for those who are fascinated by the Titanic, or for anyone who loves a good ghost story.

–Elysse, STACKS Writer

March 26, 2014

Half a Chance

Posted by at 1:40 am in Reads | Permalink

Half a Chance (for ages 8-12) by Cynthia Lord

Lucy’s family is on the move again. This time they end up in a rickety, red house on a lake in New Hampshire. At least she has her dog, Ansel, to keep her company.

Half a Chance book coverThe day after they move in, Lucy’s dad is off again to Arizona. As a famous photographer, this is nothing new. Lucy just wishes it wasn’t for two months. Before he leaves, Lucy finds out that at the end of the summer her dad will be judging a photo contest. She secretly begins taking photos and planning to enter the contest.

As Lucy tries to prove to her dad that she has what it takes to be a true photographer, she also has to make friends in a new place. She meets Nate and Emily. Nate’s Grandma Lilah is part of a team who wants to protect a family of loons living on the lake. Since she is too old to kayak out there and check on them every day, Nate and Emily bring Lucy along for the ride, and Lucy, of course, brings her camera. But what she sees through her camera lens is not necessarily what her new friends want to see.

Read Chapter 1 and let us know what you think of this new book by the Newbery Honor-winning author of Rules.

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

March 19, 2014

Swindle Sequel: Jackpot

Posted by at 1:22 am in Gordon Korman, Reads | Permalink

Jackpot book cover by Gordon KormanJackpot (for ages 8-12) by Gordon Korman

Here’s the scoop: Someone on Long Island bought a lottery ticket worth $29,876,454.53. The problem is they never cashed it in. It’s missing, and it needs to be found soon. The deadline for cashing it is one year, and that year is almost up.

Griffin and his friends live near where the multi-million-dollar ticket was bought. As revenge for multiple bullying incidents, they team up and send Darren Vader on a wild goose chase digging through the garbage cans of Cedarville (thinking that the ticket is in one of them). However, the prank goes awry and soon, people from all over are Dumpster diving, hoping to find the missing lottery ticket.

Plus, there’s a new kid in town who might actually hate Griffin more than Darren does: Victor Phoenix. Victor sees Griffin as a bully. Next thing he knows, Griffin’s friends are spending their time with Victor and not him. It seems like everyone is against him!

Griffin resorts to his worst nightmare: working with Darren to find out who purchased that missing lottery ticket. Do they succeed? Or is that prize money as good as gone? Read Chapter 1 now!

What would you do if you won almost 30 million dollars? Tell us in the Comments below!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

March 12, 2014

A Snicker of Magic Book Review

Posted by at 1:28 am in Reads | Permalink

A Snicker of Magic (for ages 8-12) by Natalie Lloyd

Felicity has always been different. She can see words, but not just the kind written on paper or typed on a computer screen. Felicity can see the words of people around her. Their thoughts and whispers, feelings and dreams are alive to her. Some are glittery; some have feet like caterpillars, and one is even full of lightning bolts. She collects them in her little blue book that she always carries with her.

A Snicker of Magic book cover by Natalie LloydFelicity’s mother, Holly Pickles, has a wandering heart, and has never settled down long enough to call anywhere “home.” Midnight Gulch may be different, though. Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away.

Now, for the first time, Felicity has a best friend, and she will do anything to convince her mom that they need to stay. But first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.

Will Felicity be able to call the magical Midnight Gulch home? Read Chapter 1 and see if you get hooked!

Also read the follow up stories: “Becoming the Beedle” and “When Ghosts Come Out to Dance.”

What kind of magic you would have if you lived in Midnight Gulch? Share in the Comments section!

–Elysse, STACKS Writer

February 19, 2014

Gold Medal Winter Book Review

Posted by at 1:23 am in Reads | Permalink

Gold Medal Winter (for ages 10-14) by Donna Freitas

“It’s called the Kiss and Cry for just this reason — it’s the place where you potentially experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, all caught on camera for the world to see.”

Gold Medal Winter book cover by Donna FreitasDiscovered by Olympic gold medalist Lucy Chen at age ten, Esperanza Flores has a natural talent for figure skating. Now at sixteen, Espi has earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team! A Dominican-American Cinderella story, dubbed Spiñorita, she is “America’s hope for gold at the Olympics.”

Being a new member of the Olympic team isn’t easy. She must work hard on her routine perfecting a secret trick – a quadruple Salchow which has never been attempted at an Olympic event by a female. There are also her teammates Stacie and Meredith, who make it clear that they don’t like her. And then, there are the boys . . . A gorgeous ice prince named Hunter is vying for her attention, but Espi can’t help but be drawn to a sweet and shy hockey player named Danny.

Does Espi land the quadruple Salchow? Can she choose between Hunter and Danny? Most importantly, does she win a gold medal? If you love the Olympics, then read Chapter 1 of Gold Medal Winter and see if you get hooked.

If you could pick an Olympic sport to compete in, what would it be? Comment below!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

February 12, 2014

The Quantum League Book #1

Posted by at 1:51 am in Reads | Permalink

The Quantum League: Spell Robbers (for ages 8-12) by Matthew J. Kirby

When Ben joins a science club at the university where his mom works, he finds out there is more to quantum physics than he thought.
The Quantum League: Spell Robbers book cover by Matthew J. Kirby

Ben is special. After joining the club he finds out that, through the laws of quantum physics, he can “actuate.” Just by using his imagination, he can affect the world around him. He learns to create fire, ice, and lightning with the help of Dr. Hughes, a mentor to the kids in the “club.” She makes a major discovery in the field: a mobile augmenter that would allow actuators to amplify their abilities wherever they are.

A rival gang hears of this valuable device and kidnaps the equipment and the doctor. Now, Ben must use his imagination not only to get his old life back, but to survive.

This first installment of the Quantum League series is action-packed and fast-paced. Read Chapter 1 and tell us what you think.

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

February 5, 2014

The Lost Boy Book Review

Posted by at 1:07 am in Reads | Permalink

The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth (a graphic novel for ages 8-12)

There’s something spooky about Nate’s new house in Crow’s Woods. When Nate gets to pick his own room, he never expects to find a note addressed to him in the floorboards. Along with it is a series of old recordings, all made by a boy named Walter Pidgin.The Lost Boy book cover by Greg Ruth

Walt’s story takes place in the 1950s. Walt takes his mother’s tape recorder with him wherever he goes, documenting his life, especially when weird things start to happen. Dogs and cats start to go missing, and Walt thinks he sees crickets riding dogs and a doll that moves and speaks. And there’s a talking squirrel. He thinks he is going crazy, so he sets off to investigate.

Meanwhile, in the present, Nate starts seeing the same things Walt described on his tapes. His nosy neighbor Tabitha joins him when he decides to seek out answers. Signs are beginning to show that a dark force is about to escape, and Nate and Tabitha must save the town from the evil Vespertine before his powers completely take over Crow’s Woods.

The Lost Boy is a suspenseful mystery with a twist of fantasy. The artwork and the writing makes the characters jump off the page, sucking you right into the story. Read Chapter 1 and let us know what you think in the Comments!

–Elysse, STACKS Writer